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Apparently, Impressing A Reality Judge Can Get You Out Of Jail

Reality TV occasionally shocks, wows, and inspires. That’s exactly what happened this week, when the Georgia version of The Voice served as the vehicle for a prisoner being granted parole. In the country of Georgia an imprisoned woman was allowed to compete on The Voice, and while she didn’t ultimately win the competition, she was given the opportunity to leave the prison system and head home thanks to prisons minister Kakha Kakhishvili.

During the episode of The Voice airing around the Christmas holiday, contestant Teona Kolbaia was defeated in the quarterfinals round. She may not have been the winner of the competition, but she was indeed a winner. Prisons minister Kakha Kakhishvili strode onstage at the end of the program and announced his department had been keeping an eye on her and on the strides she had made on the popular reality series with the fans and judges. They believed the competition had helped her to reintegrate back into society and they announced she was paroled live on the air. I’d say that probably helped the department’s popularity.

Teona Kolbaia was sent to jail back in 2012 after being convicted of armed robbery. She and her male partner robbed a taxi driver in Tbilisi, using a fake pistol to incentivize the driver to hand over his money and his vehicle. Reports indicate they also robbed a grocery store. Both Teona Kolbaia and her partner pled guilty after being caught. However, apparently the former robber has one hell of a voice and was given the opportunity to participate in Georgia’s The Voice earlier this fall, where she convinced one mentor to turn around during the blind auditions and competed on the series thereafter. Accompanying her onstage each week have been two prison officers.

During the pre-holiday episode, Ms. Kolbia appeared onstage in a blue evening gown and was visibly emotional when those in charge of her fate decided to give her a chance to make amends outside the walls of a prison. I can’t imagine the US government allowing a prisoner to audition for a singing competition series much less giving that person the opportunity to cut short his or her prison sentence. In fact, the most exciting out-of-the-blue moment I've ever seen on The Voice has been a wedding proposal. As such, watching Kolbaia earn parole is a must-see moment. You can check out the segment—alas sadly not in English—below.

Teona Kolbaia said live on the air that she wants to “start [her] life anew.” While she didn’t nab The Voice prize package, she did earn something more important: her freedom.

Jessica Rawden

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.